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111 U.S.

1
4 S.Ct. 265
28 L.Ed. 331

CO. OF OTOE
v.
BALDWIN.
BALDWIN
v.
CO. OF OTOE.
March 17, 1884.

John C. Watson, for County of Otoe.


J. M. Woolworth, for Baldwin.
BLATCHFORD, J.

>>On the first of April, 1882, John T. Baldwin brought a suit at law, in the
circuit court of the United States for the district of Nebraska, against the county
of Otoe, in the state of Nebraska, to recover the amount due on sundry coupons
cut from bonds issued by that county, the coupons being payable, some January
1st and others July 1st in each year, from and including 1870 to and including
1881, and January 1, 1882. On the eleventh of August, 1882, Baldwin brought
another suit at law, in the same court against the same defendant, to recover the
amount due on sundry other coupons, cut from some of the same bonds, the
coupons being payable, some January 1st and others July 1st in each year, from
and including 1878 to and including 1882. The bonds were issued by the
county, while Nebraska was a territory, to the Council Bluffs & St. Joseph
Railroad Company, the principal being payable January 1, 1887, with interest
from January 1, 1867, at the rate of 10 per cent. per annum, payable on July 1st
and January 1st in each year. The amount of the principal of the bonds was
$40,000, they bore date November 12, 1866, and were signed by the chairman
of the board of county commissioners, and the treasurer, and attested by the
county clerk, and bore the seal of the county, and were payable to the company
or its assigns, and each bond was assigned by it, by an assignment under its
seal, to the bearer, indorsed on the bond, and dated November 18, 1869. Each

bond contained the following statement: 'This bond is one of a series of one
hundred and sixty, of the like tenor and date, one hundred of which are for one
hundred dollars, and sixty of which are each for five hundred dollars, in the
aggregate amounting to the sum of forty thousand dollars, executed and issued,
or to be issued, from time to time, as the wants of said county shall require, to
pay to the Council Bluffs & St. Joseph Railroad Company, as an appropriation
made by said county to said railroad company, to aid in the construction of the
railroad of said company, to be located in Fremont county Iowa, through a
point most convenient to Nebraska City. This debt is authorized by a vote of the
legal voters of said county of Otoe, taken at an election held under and by
virtue of an order of the county commissioners of said county, on the
seventeenth day of March, 1866, in pursuance with the several acts of the
legislature of the territory of Nebraska, in such cases made and provided, and a
resolution of the board of county commissioners of said county granting such
aid.'
2

Nebraska City is in the county of Otoe, on the west bank of the Missouri river.
Fremont county, in Iowa, adjoins Otoe county on the east, being separated from
it only by the Missouri river. Council Bluffs is in Iowa, on the east bank of the
Missouri river, above Fremont county, and 40 to 50 miles above Nebraska City.
St. Joseph is in Missouri, on the east bank of the Missouri river, below the
other places named.

On the sixth of January, 1860, the legislative assembly of the territory of


Nebraska passed an act (Laws 1859-60, 6th Sess. p. 112) entitled 'An act to
authorize Otoe county to subscribe and take stock in any railroad located or to
be located in Fremont county, in the state of Iowa.' This act contained the
following provisions: 'That the board of county commissioners for Otoe county
may, at any time, by an order of said board, cause an election to be held for the
purpose of ascertaining the will of the people of Otoe county, as to the
propriety of said county subscribing stock for any amount, not exceeding
seventy-five thousand dollars, to any railroad company, for the purpose of
constructing any railroad now or hereafter to be located in Fremont county and
state of Iowa. Section 2. If a majority of the legal voters of said county shall
vote in favor of such proposition, then the board of county commissioners of
Otoe county shall issue the bonds of said county, for whatever amount of stock
it may have been decided upon by such vote, to any such railroad company,
which bonds shall not bear any greater interest than ten per cent. per annum.'

On the eleventh of January, 1861, the legislative assembly of the territory


passed an act (Laws 1860-61, 7th Sess. p. 146) entitled 'An act to define the
powers and duties of county commissioners and county clerk.' This act created

in each county a board of county commissioners, consisting of three persons. It


also provided as follows:
5

'Sec. 24. The said commissioners shall have power to submit to the people of
the county, at any regular or special election, the question whether the county
will borrow money to aid in the construction of public buildings, the question
whether the county will aid or construct any road or bridge, or to submit to the
people of the county any question involving an extraordinary outlay of money
by the county; and said commissioners may aid any enterprise designed for the
benefit of the county as aforesaid, whenever a majority of the people thereof
shall be in favor of the proposition as provided in this section.

'Sec. 25. When county warrants are at a depreciated value, the said
commissioners may, in like manner, submit the question whether a tax of a
higher rate than that provided by law shall be levied, and in all cases when an
additional tax is laid in pursuance of a vote of the people of the county, for the
special purpose of repaying borrowed money, or of constructing or ordaining to
construct any road or bridge, or for aiding in any enterprise contemplated by the
twenty-first section of this act, such special tax shall be paid in money, and in
no other manner.

'Sec. 26. The mode of submitting the questions to the people, contemplated by
the last two sections, shall be the following: The whole question, including the
sum desired to be raised, or the amount of tax desired to be levied, or the rate
per annum, and the whole regulation, including the time of its taking effect or
having operation, if it be of a nature to be set forth, and the penalty of its
violation, if there be one, is to be published at least for four weeks in some
newspaper published in the county. If there be no such newspaper, the
publication is to be made by being posted up in at least one of the most public
places in each election precinct in the county, and in all cases the notices shall
name the time when such question shall be voted upon, and the form in which
the question shall be taken, and a copy of the question submitted shall be posted
up at each place of voting during the day of election.

'Sec. 27. When the question submitted involves the borrowing or expenditure of
money, the proposition of the question must be accompanied by a provision to
lay a tax for the payment thereof, in addition to the usual taxes under section
sixteen of this act; and no vote adopting the question proposed shall be valid,
unless it likewise adopt the amount of tax to be levied to meet the liability
incurred.

'Sec. 28. The rate of tax levied in pursuance of the last four sections of this act

'Sec. 28. The rate of tax levied in pursuance of the last four sections of this act
shall, in no case, exceed more than three mills on the dollar, of the county
valuation, in one year. When the object is to borrow money to aid in the
erection of public buildings, as provided, the rate shall be such as to pay the
debt in ten years. When the object is to construct, or aid in constructing, any
road or bridge, the annual rate shall not exceed one mill on a dollar of the
valuation; and any special tax or taxes levied in pursuance of this act, becoming
delinquent, shall draw the same rate of interest as ordinary taxes levied in
pursuance of the revenue laws of this territory.

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'Sec. 29. The said commissioners being satisfied that the above requirements
have been substantially complied with, and that a majority of the votes cast are
in favor of the proposition submitted, shall cause the same to be entered at large
upon the book containing the record of their proceedings; and they shall then
have power to levy and collect the special tax in the same manner that the other
county taxes are collected. Propositions thus acted upon cannot be rescinded by
the board of county commissioners.

11

'Sec. 30. Money raised by the county commissioners in pursuance of the last six
sections of this act is specially appropriated and constituted a fund district from
all others in the hands of the county treasurer, until the obligation assumed is
discharged.'

12

The records of the commissioners of Otoe county, and the records of that
county, show the following facts: The county clerk called a meeting of the
commissioners of Otoe county, to be held February 24, 1866, 'to take into
consideration the question of submitting to the people of said county the
issuance of the bonds of said county, not exceeding $200,000 in amount, to be
used in securing to said county an eastern railroad connection.' The meeting
was held on that day, two commissioners being present, and it was ordered that
an election be held on the seventeenth of March, 1866, in and throughout the
county of Otoe, 'for the purpose of ascertaining whether the commissioners of
Otoe county shall issue bonds, not to exceed $200,000, for the purpose of
securing an eastern railroad connection for Nebraska City, N. T.' The election
was held on the day named, and the vote was 1,362 for, and 201 against, 'the
issuing of two hundred thousand dollars for the purpose of securing an eastern
railroad connection for Nebraska City.' On the ninth of November, 1866, the
commissioners, three being present, made the following order: 'Ordered that
($40,000) forty thousand dollars be donated to the Council Bluffs & St. Joseph
Railroad Company, provided that said railroad company locate their road
within one and a half miles of the ferry landing at Nebraska City, N. T., and
secure to Nebraska City and to Otoe county an eastern railroad connection on or
before the first day of September, 1876, by way of St. Joseph, Mo. The above

order was made inconformity of a vote of legal voters of Otoe county, taken at
an election duly held under and by virtue of an order of the county
commissioners of said county, on the seventeenth day of March, 1866, in
pursuance of the several acts of the legislature of the territory of Nebraska, in
such cases made and provided.' The bonds were issued, and were received by
the railroad company, $7,000 on the twenty-fourth of November, 1866,
$20,000 on the twenty-third of February, 1867, and $13,000 on the thirteenth of
November, 1867. Nebraska became a state on the first of March, 1867. Proc. 14
St. 820.
13

On the fifteenth of February, 1869, the legislature of the state passed an


act(Laws 1869, p. 92) entitled 'An act to enable counties, cities, and precincts to
borrow money on their bonds, or to issue bonds, to aid in the construction or
completion of works of internal improvement in this state, and to legalize bonds
already issued for such purpose.' The first seven sections of this act authorized
counties, cities, and precincts in the state to issue bonds to aid in the
construction of railroads and other works of internal improvement, and
prescribed regulations in respect to the same, embracing the taking of a prior
vote of the legal voters of the county, city, or precinct, and the laying of taxes
to pay the principal and interest of the bonds. Section 8 was as follows:

14

'Sec. 8. All bonds heretofore voted and issued by any county or city in this state
to aid in the construction of any railroad or other work of internal improvement
are hereby declared to be legal and valid, and a lien upon all the taxable
property in such county or city, notwithstanding any defect or irregularity in the
submission of the question to a vote of the people, or in taking the vote, or in
the execution of such bonds, and notwithstanding the same may not have been
voted upon, executed, or issued in conformity with law, and such bonds shall
have the same legal validity and binding force as if they had been legally
authorized, voted upon, and executed: provided, that nothing in this section, nor
in this act, shall be so construed as to legalize or in any way sanction any vote
of the people of Nemaha county heretofore had, for the purpose of aiding in the
construction of any railroad, nor anything done by the county commissioners of
said county authorizing said vote, or anything done by them in consequence of
such vote.'

15

On the same day the legislature of the state passed another act, (Laws 1869, p.
260,) entitled 'An act to authorize the county commissioners of Otoe county to
issue the bonds of said county to the amount of one hundred and fifty thousand
dollars to the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad, or any other railroad
running east from Nebraska City.' This act provided as follows:

16

'Whereas, the qualified voters of the county of Otoe and state of Nebraska have
heretofore, at an election held for that purpose, authorized the county
commissioners of said county to issue the bonds of said county, in payment of
stock, to any railroad in Fremont county, Iowa, that would secure to Nebraska
City an eastern railroad connection, to the amount of two hundred thousand
dollars; and whereas, but forty thousand dollars have been issued: Section 1.
Therefore, be it enacted by the legislature of the state of Nebraska, that said
commissioners be, and they are hereby, authorized to issue one hundred and
fifty thousand dollars of the bonds aforesaid to the Burlington & Missouri
River Railroad Company, or any other railroad company that will secure to
Nebraska City a direct eastern railroad connection, as a donation to said railroad
company, on such terms and conditions as may be imposed by said county
commissioners. Sec. 2. Said bonds, when so issued, are hereby declared to be
binding obligations on said county, and to be governed by the terms and
conditions of an act entitled 'An act to enable counties, cities, and precincts to
borrow money or to issue bonds to aid in the construction or completion of
works of internal improvement in this state, and to legalize bonds already issued
for such purpose,' approved February, A. D. 1869.'

17

After an answer and a reply in each suit the two suits were consolidated. The
petitions by which the suits were commenced allege, in respect to each of the
bonds from which the coupons sued on were cut, that it was issued and
delivered to the company and assigned by it in blank, and was sold and
delivered by it for value, and has in due course of business come to the
plaintiff, 'who has become and is the true and lawful owner and holder thereof,
together with the coupons thereto annexed, and without any knowledge of any
facts, if any there be, affecting its validity;' that by the second act of February
15, 1869, supra, (which the petitions call an act of the legislature of the
territory,) the territory recognized the due issue of the bonds; and that said
county paid all of the coupons attached to said bonds when the same were
issued, except those which matured on and after January 1, 1870.

18

The answers deny all the allegations of the petitions except those expressly
admitted. They deny that the county issued or delivered the bonds. They admit
that the board of county commissioners issued and delivered the bonds and
coupons to the company, but aver that they did so without legal authority; that
neither the question of issuing the bonds nor the proposition to lay or levy a tax
for the payment of the bonds or coupons was ever submitted to or voted or
passed upon by the voters or people of the county; that the bonds were a
donation by the commissioners to the company, for which the county received
no consideration; that the company was an Iowa corporation, having its road
wholly in that state; that it obtained the bonds upon an agreement with the

commissioners, with which it did not comply, as to where it would build its
road and establish a depot; that the plaintiff had notice of all said facts when he
received the bonds and coupons, and paid no consideration for them; that the
territory of Nebraska did not, by said second act of February 15, 1869,
recognize the due issue of the bonds; and that said act was unconstitutional and
void, and was not retrospective or retroactive, and did not pretend to authorize
or legalize any bond or bonds made or issued before that act was passed. The
answer in the second suit alleges, as an additional defense, that the question of
issuing the bonds, and the sum to be raised, and the amount of tax, and its rate,
were not published before March 17, 1866, or at any time, in any newspaper
published in the county, nor posted up in any election precinct, nor was any
question of issuing any bonds to said company ever so published or posted up,
and no copy of any question to be submitted and voted on by the people of the
county at said election was posted up at any place of voting in the county
during the seventeenth of March, 1866. The replies deny the matters set up in
the answers.
19

A trial by jury having been duly waived in the consolidated action, it was tried
before the circuit judge and the district judge. There was no special finding of
facts. The judgment, entered May 19, 1883, states that 'the court finds for the
defendant upon all the causes of action pleaded by the plaintiff, upon coupons
which were more than five years past due when these actions were brought,
and, upon all other causes of action pleaded by the plaintiff in the said two
several actions, the court finds for the plaintiff, and assesses his damages at
$19,537.65. The judgment is for the plaintiff for that amount, with costs. In the
first suit, the answer sets up as a defense to the causes of action on the coupons
which were more than five years past due when the suit was brought, the
Nebraska statute of limitations.

20

There is in the record a bill of exceptions, which states that it contains all the
evidence offered or given by either party in the trial of the case, but it contains
no exception to anything by either party, nor does the record contain any
exception to any ruling of the court. The bonds and coupons, and the records of
the county commissioners, are made a part of the bill of exceptions The rest of
the bill consists of oral testimony.

21

There is, however, in the record a certificate signed by the circuit judge and the
district judge, and filed the same day the judgment was entered, stating that, in
the course of the trial, the following questions arose for determination; that is to
say: 'First. Whether the commissioners of the defendant had the power to issue
bonds under either of the statutes, copies of which are hereto attached, marked
'A' and 'B,' without first giving four weeks' notice of the election, as provided

by section 26 of act marked 'B,' so that the same would be good and valid in the
hands of a bona fide holder? Second. If the power to issue bonds existed under
either of said statutes, was it a defense available to the county, against a bona
fide holder of the bonds in suit, that the election, in pursuance of which they
were issued, was for the purpose of determining whether the county should
issue its bonds to the amount of $200,000 for the purpose of securing an eastern
connection for Nebraska City, when only $40,000 was issued under said vote?
Third. The order for the election not providing for the submission of a
provision to levy a tax, as required by section 27 of the act marked 'B,' should it
be presumed that the proposition to issue the bonds submitted and voted on at
an election was not accompanied by a provision to lay the tax as required in
said act, and, if such presumption is to be indulged, was the presumed fact a
defense available to the county against a bona fide holder of the bonds? Fourth.
Was it a defense available to the county against a bona fide holder that the
bonds in suit, after being issued in pursuance of a vote held under one or both of
said acts, were donated to the railroad company, provided it were located
within one and one-half miles of Nebraska City? Fifth. If originally illegal and
void, were the bonds validated by the acts, copies of which are hereto attached,
marked 'C' and 'D'?' The act marked 'A' is the territorial act of January 6, 1860;
the act marked 'B' is the territorial act of January 11, 1861; and the acts marked
'C' and 'D' are the two state acts of February 15, 1869. The certificate further
states that 'the circuit judge being of the opinion that, all of said questions
notwithstanding, judgment should be for the plaintiff and the district judge
being of the contrary opinion, it is ordered that judgment be entered for the
plaintiff, and the said questions be certified to the supreme court for its
consideration and answer, * * * at the request of counsel.'
22

Each party has sued out a writ of error to review the judgment. The condition of
the record is such, in the absence of an exception by either party to any ruling
of the court in the progress of the trial, and of a special finding of the court
upon facts, that there is nothing open for our consideration outside of the
questions embraced in the certificate of the judges. We accept the certificate as
sufficient to warrant an answer to the fifth question, although it does not state,
in the terms of section 652 or section 693 of the Revised Statutes, that the
judges disagreed upon the points stated in the five questions, or that their
opinions were opposed upon such questions, but only that they disagreed as to
whether the judgment should be for the plaintiff or the defendant,
notwithstanding all of said questions. Having arrived at the conclusion that the
fifth question must be answered in the affirmative, and such result disposing of
the writ of error taken by the defendant, we do not deem it necessary to answer
the other four questions. The fifth question assumes that the bonds were
originally illegal and void, and we so assume, without so deciding, in answering

that question.
23

The question is not an open one, on this record, as to whether the plaintiff is a
bona fide owner of the bonds and coupons for value, without knowledge or
notice of any facts affecting their validity, as alleged in the petitions and replies,
and denied in the answers. That issue is found for the plaintiff by the general
finding in his favor as to all the causes of action, except those on coupons
which fell due before July 1, 1877. This general finding has the same effect as
the verdict of a jury, and we cannot review it.

24

It is contended for the defendant that the failure to give the four weeks' notice
of the election, as provided by section 26 of the act marked 'B,' and the failure
to include in the vote the question of taxation, as provided by section 27,
constituted such a want of power to issue the bonds that the legislature could
not validate their issue. The territorial act of January 11, 1861, the proceedings
for the election and its result, and the state act marked 'D,' were before this
court in Railroad Co. v. Co. of Otoe, 16 Wall. 667, at December term, 1872.
After that act was passed, and in September, 1869, the commissioners of Otoe
county issued to the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad Company, named in
that act, as a donation, the $150,000 of bonds mentioned in it; there having
been no vote of the people, other than the one above mentioned, authorizing
the issue of the bonds. The bonds and their coupons were transferred for value,
and before the maturity of any of the coupons, by that company, to the Chicago,
Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company, and it sued the county, on some of
the coupons, in the circuit court of the United States for the district of
Nebraska. Upon the trial of that suit, two questions were certified to this court:
(1) Whether the act marked 'D,' authorizing the county to issue bonds in aid of
a railroad outside of the state, conflicted with the constitution of the state; (2)
whether the county commissioners, under that act, could lawfully issue the
bonds, without the proposition to vote the bonds for the purpose indicated, and
also a tax to pay the same, being or having been submitted to a vote of the
people of the county, as provided by the territorial act of January 11, 1861. This
court held (1) that the act of February 15, 1869, authorizing the county of Otoe
to issue bonds in aid of a railroad outside of the state, did not conflict with the
constitution of the state; (2) that it was a valid exercise of legislative authority,
to authorize a county to incur indebtedness and impose taxation in aid of
railroad companies; (3) that the legislature could constitutionally authorize a
donation of the county bonds to the railroad company; (4) that it could
authorize aid to a railroad beyond the limits of the county and outside of the
state; (5) that under said act of February 15, 1869, the county commissioners
could lawfully issue the $150,000 of bonds without a vote of the people, as
provided by the territorial act of January 11, 1861, on the proposition to issue

them, and on the question of taxation to pay them. This court said, by Justice
STRONG: 'If the legislature had power to authorize the county officers to
extend aid on behalf of the county or state to a railroad company, as we have
seen it had, very plainly it could prescribe the mode in which such aid might be
extended, as well as the terms and conditions of the extension, and it needed no
assistance from the popular vote of the municipality. Such a vote could not
have enlarged legislative power. But the act of 1869 was an unconditional
bestowal of authority upon the county commissioners to issue the bonds to the
railroad company. It required no precedent action of the voters of the county. It
assumed that their assent had been obtained. That prior to 1869 the sanction of
approval by a local popular vote had been required for municipal aid to railroad
companies or improvement companies, is quite immaterial. The requisition was
but the act of an annual legislature, which any subsequent legislature could
abrogate or annul.'
25

It cannot be doubted that the two acts of February 15, 1869, taken together,
intended to legalize the $40,000 of bonds issued to the Council Bluffs & St.
Joseph Railroad Company. Those bonds fall within the description of section 8
of the act marked 'C,' as bonds theretofore 'voted and issued' by the county of
Otoe to aid in the construction of a railroad. The vote was a vote of the county
to issue $200,000 of bonds 'for the purpose of securing an eastern railroad
connection for Nebraska City;' and the $40,000 of bonds were issued as a
donation to said company, to aid it in building a railroad so near to Nebraska
City as to secure to that city and to the county of Otoe an eastern railroad
connection by the way of St. Joseph. The defects and irregularities alleged in
respect to the bonds were defects and irregularities in submitting to a vote of the
people of the county the question of issuing the bonds, in regard to the
publishing of notice, and in regard to including in the vote the question of
taxation. It was alleged that the bonds were not voted upon or issued in
conformity with law. The statute enacted that, notwithstanding such defects or
irregularities, the bonds should be legal and valid, and should have the same
legal validity and binding force as if they had been legally authorized, voted
upon, and executed. The act of the same date, marked 'D,' refers to and
identifies sufficiently the election held, and the authority given by the vote to
the county commissioners to issue the bonds of the county, to the amount of
$200,000, 'to any railroad in Fremont county, Iowa, that would secure to
Nebraska City an eastern railroad connection.' It recites the authority as one to
issue the bonds 'in payment of stock.' But the question is one merely of identity,
and it is not pretended there was any election in Otoe county to the purport set
forth, including the words 'in payment of stock,' while there was just such an
election leaving out those words. The identity is further shown by the words in
the act, 'and whereas, but forty thousand dollars have been issued,' and by the

authority given to issue $150,000 'of the bonds aforesaid;' that is, of the
$200,000 of bonds so voted, as a donation to any railroad company that would
'secure to Nebraska City a direct eastern railroad connection.' It is not pretended
that any $40,000 of bonds were issued except those named in the bonds sued on
in this suit. Taking the two acts together, the legislature recognized the fact that
the voters of Otoe connty had voted to issue $200,000 of bonds to secure an
eastern railroad connection for Nebraska City, in that county; that $40,000 had
been issued; and that the defects and irregularities before named were alleged to
have occurred in respect to the voting upon and issuing the $40,000 of the
bonds; and it enacted that those bonds should be legal and valid, and that
$150,000 more of the $200,000 should be issued for the same purpose.
26

The decision by this court in regard to the $150,000 of bonds leaves but little
more to say in regard to the $40,000. As the legislature had power to authorize
the issue of bonds without any precedent action of the voters of the county, it
could validate the issue of bonds by curing and legalizing defects in respect to
the voting. The bonds were assigned by the railroad company, and came to the
plaintiff after the acts of 1869 were passed, and he became a bona fide holder
of them on the faith of those acts. The doctrine is well settled in this court that
the legislature of a state, unless restrained by its organic law, has the right to
authorize a municipal corporation to issue bonds in aid of a railroad, and to levy
a tax to pay the bonds and the interest on them, with or without a popular vote,
and to cure, by a retrospective act, irregularities in the exercise of the power
conferred. Thomson v. Lee Co. 3 Wall. 327; Campbell v. City of Kenosha, 5
Wall. 203.

27

Much stress is laid by the defendant on the decision of the supreme court of
Nebraska in Hamlin v. Meadville, 6 Neb. 227, in 1877. That was a suit brought
in February, 1871, by an owner of property in Otoe county, to enjoin the county
treasurer from collecting a tax levied on his property to pay the interest on these
$40,000 of bonds, and to have the bonds declared void. A judgment to that
effect was rendered, and was affirmed by the supreme court. The question
adjudged in the case was the power conferred on the county commissioners, by
the acts of 1860 and 1861, to issue the bonds. It was held that the only
authority, if any, given by the vote of the people was to subscribe for stock in a
railroad company. The act marked 'C' was not considered. It was held that it
was not the purpose of the act marked 'D' to legalize the $40,000 of bonds, but
only to authorize the issue of the $150,000 of bonds; and that the only subject
or object expressed in its title was the issuing of bonds. The adjudication in
Hamlin v. Meadville is not set up as a judgment binding on the plaintiff. Nor
can it be. He was no party to it, nor was any holder of the bonds.

28

It is objected that the act marked 'C' is void because section 19 of article 2 of
the constitution of Nebraska, of 1867, provided that 'no bill shall contain more
than one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title,' and because the
act does not comply with those provisions. It is plain, we think, that the bill
does not contain more than one subject. That subject is municipal bonds issued,
or to be issued, to aid in making works of internal improvement. There is but
one purpose, object, or subject, and that is the aiding of such works by bonds,
and the status of such bonds. The subject of the act, to authorize future bonds
and legalize existing bonds, for such purpose, is clearly expressed in its title.

29

But it is objected that the title of the act is limited to bonds issued, or to be
issued, to aid works in Nebraska, while the body of the act extends to works
any where; and that so the subject of the act is not expressed in its title. The
first section of the act relates to the future issue of bonds by 'any county or city
in the state;' the seventh section relates to like issues by 'any precinct in any
organized county of this state;' and the eighth section relates to 'bonds
heretofore voted and issued by any county or city in this state.' The railroads
and works of internal improvement referred to in the body of the act are not
limited to those situated in the state. It would, we think, be a strained
construction, to hold that the title of the act is to be so interpreted as to be
limited to works situated in the state, when such limitation does not exist in the
body of the act, and when the words 'in this state,' in the title, may fairly be
regarded as applicable to the prior words 'counties, cities, and precincts,' to
which words they are applied in the body of the act. This principle of
construction is sanctioned by the views expressed in Montclair v. Ramsdell,
107 U. S. 152, S. C. 2 SUP. CT. REP. 391, and in City of Jonesboro v. Cairo &
St. Louis R. Co. 110 U.S. 192, S. C. 4 SUP. CT. REP. 67. See, also, Cooley,
Const. Lim. 141 et seq. We have not been referred to any decision of the
supreme court of Nebraska which we regard as in conflict with these views.

30

The question sought to be raised by the writ of error of the plaintiff is that the
statute of limitations had not run against the coupons which were more than
five years past due when the first suit was commenced, because, under section
17 of the Code of Civil Procedure of Nebraska, the disability of married
woman, from whom the plaintiff purchased the bonds, intervened for a
sufficient time, between their date and such purchase by him, to prevent what
would otherwise be the bar of the statute. Without considering that question, it
is sufficient to say that the facts on which it could be raised are not admitted in
the pleadings or specially found by the court, and that the general finding for
the defendant on the causes of action on coupons which were more than five
years past due when the actions were brought, and the absence of any exception
by the plaintiff to any ruling of the court in regard to the question, preclude any

adjudication here upon it.


31

The fifth question certified is answered in the affirmative, and the judgment of
the circuit court is affirmed.